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Students' plays performed at Kennedy Center regional fest

Jan. 9, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Four Western Michigan University graduate student playwrights are having their plays presented at the Kennedy Center's American College Theatre Festival's regional competition this week in Saginaw, Mich.

The plays were picked by the Kennedy Center's National Playwriting Program and accounted for four of the 13 total works selected from more than 150 entries submitted in three different categories: 10-minute plays, one-act plays and full-length plays. The festival, held in Saginaw, Mich., began on Tuesday and continues through Sunday, Jan. 11.

In addition to a live audience, the plays will be presented to a panel of luminary theatre professionals that this year includes Aaron Carter of Chicago's Victory Gardens Theatre and Roger Hall, the Kennedy Center's National Playwriting Program chairman.

The Kennedy Center's American College Theatre Festival provides opportunities for more than 18,000 theatre students and faculty throughout the country.

WMU playwrights

  • Kris Peterson, master of fine arts playwright--Peterson's play "Gun Metal Blue Bar" is one of the region's six 10-minute plays. In addition, Peterson's play has been selected for a reading at the Mid-American Theatre Conference to be held in March in Chicago. In Peterson's play, Ricky is looking to get paid for a few weeks of hard work around Henry's racing pigeon lofts. However, one final gruesome act is separating Ricky from the money he needs to rescue his late father's cuff links from the pawnshop.
  • Karen Wurl, master of fine arts playwright--Wurl's "Now and At the Hour Of" is one of the six one-act plays and was originally presented at WMU as part of Fuse 1, a multidisciplinary production last March featuring theatre, playwriting, music and dance. In "Hour," a middle-aged woman revisits 1977, a motel room, and a lost love, in an attempt to recover a lost self.
  • Jason Lenz, master of fine arts playwright--Lenz's "The Switch Room" also is one of the six one-act plays being presented. In Lenz's play, Gus and Sam have an important job to do: flip the large switch in the switch room, at the second specified to them by the government, with no knowledge of what is being set in motion by the ambiguous lever. The problem is that today Gus and Sam are beginning to question what the switch actually does once activated.
  • Christine Iaderosa, recent graduate of WMU's doctoral creative writing program--Iaderosa's play "The Sins of Kalamazoo" is the sole full-length play to be presented. Iaderosa's play will be presented in a full production later this year at the Whole Art Theatre. "The Sins of Kalamazoo" is a loose adaptation of the Carl Sandburg poem with reminiscence of the lost past of Americana and the failed promise of yesteryear.

The WMU playwrights could have their plays selected to go on to the finals at the Kennedy Center later this year. Regardless, it's a great opportunity to be included in the regional, says Dr. Steve Feffer, WMU assistant professor of English, who serves as the vice chairman for the National Playwriting Program for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival's regional competition.

"It is a competition, but it is also an important development opportunity for the playwrights," Feffer says. "They will be working with directors and actors so they can continue to shape their plays with strong collaborators from other schools and theatre professionals."

It's also good news for WMU, Feffer adds. Never before have four plays written by WMU playwrights been presented at the same festival.

"This is a tremendous honor to have four WMU playwrights selected out of the 13 plays going to the regional finals," Feffer says. "It speaks to the high quality of the playwriting students we are attracting in the creative writing program and the production and development opportunities we have to offer them for continuing their work in collaboration with WMUs theatre department and with local theatres, like the Whole Art Theater."

For more information, contact Dr. Steve Feffer, WMU assistant professor of English, at steve.feffer@wmich.edu.

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Playwrights clean up at Kennedy Center regional fest

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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